Posts tagged ‘James’

May 13, 2014

843 Acres: When Predators and Prey Live Together

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 11-12 (txt | aud, 4:11 min)
Jam 5 (txt | aud, 2:57 min)
Highlighted: Is 11:6-9

The Other: Ernest Crawley calls our inborn aggression to ethnic (and other) conflicts a “taboo of personal isolation.” Sigmund Freud says that it stems from our “narcissism of minor differences”. We compare ourselves to one another, constantly feuding and ridiculing each other in our minds. In an effort to set ourselves apart as unique or righteous, we focus on our “details of differentiation”. Is there any hope for our miserable self-centeredness?

Holy City: Isaiah pictures the Holy City as a place where those now at war—even predators and prey—will be at peace. He writes, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” [1]

Shalom: In When the Kings Come Marching In, Richard Mouw writes, “In the glorious future, the Lord will eliminate conflict between animals, and between animals and human beings. Former predators will live peacefully with their former prey. Little children will have nothing to fear from beasts or snakes. The coming of the peace, the shalom, of the Lord has far-reaching implications. The fullness of the knowledge of the Lord will banish all hostility and enmity from the good creation. The curse of sin will be lifted from the earth, and God’s righteousness will heal all that was touched by it. Even relationships between animals will be transformed.”

Prayer: Lord, When we pray, “May your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” the type of peace for which we long is the type that puts down the sharp sword and closes the growling mouth. And we want it to start with us. Mortify our narcissism that seeks to magnify our differences. Increase our knowledge of you so that we can put down our self-righteousness and pursue self-forgetfulness in Christ. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Isaiah 11:6-9 ESV

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May 12, 2014

843 Acres: Alibaba, IPO, and Unpredictability

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 10:5-34 (txt | aud, 4:42 min)
Jam 4 (txt | aud, 2:12 min)
Highlighted: Jam 4:13-16

Alibaba: The Alibaba Group is the biggest e-commerce company in China and, by some measures, the world. Last year, transactions on its sites totaled $240 billion—more than eBay and Amazon.com combined. When it goes public, it is expected to be the largest technology stock offering in history. [1] No matter how well (or not well) Alibaba’s IPO does, though, it will say in its annual reports what every other publicly traded company says: “Our stock price may fluctuate based on factors beyond our control.” Companies are highly attuned to their unpredictability. Are we?

Control: James gives a warning about business forecasting: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do now know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” [2] His concern, though, is not with planning; it is with imagining that we are in control of what happens.

Unpredictability: “Instead, you ought to say,” he continues, “‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” [3] We are called to use wisely our resources, abilities, connections, and time, but we are not in control of the outcomes. In fact, even more than publicly traded companies, we ought to be aware of this. For we not only have to respond, re-assess, adapt, and adjust to external conditions, we also have to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading: “If the Lord wills …”

Prayer: Lord, We confess that we often are arrogant in our planning. We presume to be in control of our lives. Yet we do not know what will happen in the next five minutes. Forgive us, Lord, and remind us that every breath is a gift from you. Our hearts beat at your command. Our workplaces function under your sovereignty. Therefore, may we not boast in our hearts. Make us humble stewards of the lives you have given to us and that you sustain in us. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] http://projects.wsj.com/alibaba/ | [2] James 4:13-14 ESV |[3] James 4:14-16

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May 9, 2014

843 Acres: Rooted and Faithful, Not Tossed and Unstable

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Is 7 (txt | aud, 3:52 min)
Jam 1 (txt | aud, 3:13 min)
Highlighted: Jam 1:9-11

Connect: Earlier this week, we saw that faith is the conviction of things “not seen” and that such faith—faith that can see our “better and abiding possession”—is able to “joyfully” accept property loss. We also saw that in our cities, there is are drastic wealth and power disparities and that God has called us to be his agents of equity. How do these two ideas—our faith in our unseen future glory and our agency as models of his equity in our cities—connect?

Trust: James begins with the idea that we can trust God to provide for us. [1] This is one of the most important ways that our faith has feet on the ground. For when we doubt that he will provide what we need, we become “tossed by the wind” and “unstable” in all our ways, James says. [2] We cannot work for the benefit of others nor “receive [for ourselves] anything from the Lord.” [3] When it comes to wealth, James writes, “Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass, he will pass away … in the midst of his pursuits.” [4] In other words, if we are rich, we must not think that our wealth is due to our own efforts and, if we are poor, we must not think our poverty is due to God’s disfavor.

Generosity: The church community is one means that God uses to dignify the poor. “His promise to provide for the poor,” writes the Theology of Work Project, “is fulfilled—in part—by the generosity of his people, and their generosity is a direct result of God’s generosity to them … This affirms both that God is the ultimate source of provision and that believers are responsible to do all they can to bring God’s provision to those in need.”

Prayer: Lord, How are you calling us to be your agents of provision in the world—as givers who share resources, as entrepreneurs who offer gainful employment, etc.? As we pray about where you might be calling us to risk for the sake of equity in our cities, increase our faith in what is unseen so that we may know and trust that you will provide for us. For we do not want to be tossed or unstable people, but rooted and faithful followers of Jesus. Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Readings:

Saturday, May 10:  Is 8:1-9:7 (txt | aud, 4:53 min) & Jam 2 (txt | aud, 2:57 min)
Sunday, May 11: Is 9:8-10:4 (txt | aud, 2:48 min) & Jam 3 (txt | aud, 2:16 min)

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Footnotes

[1] James 1:5-6 | [2] James 1:8 | [3] James 1:7 | [4] James 1:9-11 ESV

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November 22, 2013

843 Acres: Let Your Requests Be Made Known to God

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Chr 17 (text | audio, 4:16 min)
Jam 4 (text | audio, 2:12 min)
Highlighted: Jam 4:2

Pray: It is astounding that the omniscient and omnipotent Lord and Creator of the universe wants and asks his people to pray. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” [1] James wrote, “You do not have because you do not ask.” [2] Why does God repeatedly remind us to pray? Martin Luther once said:

“He knows that we are timid and shy, that we feel unworthy and unfit to present our needs to God. We feel the needs, but we cannot express them. We think that God is so great and we are so tiny that we do not dare to pray … That is why Christ wants to lure us away from such timid thoughts, to remove our doubts, and to have us go ahead confidently and boldly. Though I am unworthy, I am still his creature; and since he has made me worthy of being his creature, I am also worthy of receiving what he has promised and so generously offered to me. In other words, if I am unworthy, he and his promise are not unworthy. You can venture this vigorously and trustfully, you can put it in his lap joyfully and confidently.” [3]

How: How then do we pray? Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” [4] First, we pray “in everything”—that is, we stay in a mindset of prayer, not just in crises. [5]Second, we pray by “supplication”—that is, by asking for help. Third, we pray “with thanksgiving”—that is, we make requests with contended hearts that thank God for whatever he chooses to wisely and lovingly give us. What is the result of this type of prayer? Paul continued, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” [6]

Prayer: Lord, We care about having your peace in our hearts and minds because we struggle with anxiety. Since your peace comes through our prayer, awaken our love for you so that we want to commune with you “in everything” by “supplication” and “with thanksgiving.” Let it not be said of us, “You do not have because you do not ask.” Amen.

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M’Cheyne Weekend Readings

Saturday, November 23: 1 Chr 18 (text | audio, 2:40 min) & Jam 5 (text | audio, 2:57 min)
Sunday, November 24: 1 Chr 19-20 (text | audio, 3:16 min) & 1 Ptr 1 (text | audio, 3:48 min)

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Footnotes

[1] Matthew 7:7 ESV | [2] James 4:2 ESV | [3] The Sermon on the Mount, trans. Jaroslave Pelikan, Vol. 21 of Luther’s Works [Concordia, 1956], p. 234. | [4] Philippians 4:6 ESV | [5] See 1 Corinthians 10:31; Matthew 6:9 | [6] Philippians 4:7 ESV

November 21, 2013

843 Acres: Throwback Thursday (Lewis): A Fable About a Very Likely Misconception

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Chr 16 (text | audio, 4:57 min)
Jam 3 (text | audio, 2:16 min)
Highlighted: 1 Chr 16:1 

1 Chronicles 16:1 

The ark was the physical manifestation of the Lord’s presence with his people. Here, David places it in a tent. In 2 Chronicles 6, Solomon moves it into the temple and asks in astonishment, “But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth?” Yes, but in a way that made the ark look like a mere pencil drawing.

And they brought in the ark of God and set it inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God.

C.S. Lewis. Transposition. (an excerpt)

Let us picture a woman thrown in a dungeon. There she bears and rears a son. He grows up seeing nothing but the dungeon walls, the straw on the floor, and a little patch of the sky seen through the grating …

This unfortunate woman was an artist, and when they imprisoned her she managed to bring with her a drawing pad and a box of pencils. As she never loses the hope of deliverance, she is constantly teaching her son about that outer world which he has never seen. She does it very largely by drawing him pictures. With her pencil she attempts to show him what fields, rivers, mountains, cities, and waves on a beach are like. He is a dutiful boy and he does his best to believe her when she tells him that that outer world is far more interesting and glorious than anything in the dungeon.

At times he succeeds. On the whole he gets on tolerably well until, one day, he says something that gives his mother pause. For a minute or two, they are at cross-purposes. Finally it dawns on her that he has, all these years, lived under a misconception. ‘But,’ she gasps, ‘you didn’t think that the real world was full of lines drawn in lead pencil?’ ‘What?’ says the boy. ‘No pencil marks there?’

And instantly his whole notion of the outer world becomes a blank. For the lines, by which alone he was imagining it, have now been denied of it. He has no idea of that which will exclude and dispense with the lines, that of which the lines were merely a transposition … The child will get the idea that the real world is somehow less visible than his mother’s pictures. In reality, it lacks lines because it is incomparably more visible.

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